On the BBC News last night, December 8th 2014, they reported on the reasons for hunger in Britain today. Britain is cited as the sixth wealthiest country in the world and yet those of us who followed and campaigned against the Draconian Welfare Reform Bill as it was read in parliament, could have told them that this would be the result. My Tory MP didn't listen, neither did any of the Tories or many of the Lib Dems, as they chanted their mantra about 'work being good for people' and the 'route out of poverty is work'.
Of course, the cross-party group of MPs and church leaders have found that it is both low income families and unemployed people who are having to turn to food banks more and more. Make no mistake, this was by design, no matter how much Frank Field and his ilk stand up and pretend to look shocked. He was one of the original supporters of cuts to the welfare state.
The cross-country report cited delays in benefit payments and sanctions as the main reasons why people are having to turn to food banks.
BBC reporter Mark Easton stated that 'Britain is one of the richest countries in the world, national wealth has more than doubled in 30 years' and 'that we have so much food we literally throw away hundreds of thousands of tons of what's called surplus every year...and yet a report signed by parliamentarians from all parties finds a Britain where hunger stalks the land, the people scavenging, four million at risk of simply not having enough to eat...the report says that UK's poorest have fared less well than those in many developed Western countries, hit by the rising costs of essentials.'
Mark Easton compared our costs with Germany in the past decade:
UK - food prices risen by 47%
Germany - food prices risen by 22%
UK - rents risen by 30%
Germany - rents risen by 12%
UK - fuel costs risen by 154%
Germany - fuel costs risen by 76 %
The cross-party report shows that half a million children live in families that can't afford to feed them.
Said the BBC reporter: 'Today's report says it doesn't want to point the finger at any particular institution but does say that Britain's welfare system is complicated, cumbersome and not fit for purpose'.
Well, I would point the finger squarely at the DWP. The system is certainly not fit for purpose and add the words punitive, harsh and cruel and that would be nearer the truth. Let us not forget that vulnerable people have died as a result of this new punitive system.
The report did add however that 'benefit delays are causing considerable hardship and the inconsistent use of sanctions mean that vulnerable groups can be left without any money at all for weeks or even months.' I just wish that the day to day reality of this had been emphasised much more. And for the government just to say they're going to reflect on it, just adds insult to injury.
The BBC reported that 'the government announced a publicity campaign and new guidance to ensure vulnerable benefit claimants know about emergency payments' and that 'ministers are also being pressed to encourage the introduction of a living wage and fairer energy prices for the poorer households'.
As if all this wasn't shocking enough, the next report on the BBC was about George Osborne's further cuts to public services. This is what the Chancer had to say: 'we're going to have to cut certain welfare bills like benefits that go to working age people'.
So that was the sum of his serious reflection on the cross-country report on hunger, was it? You just couldn't make it up.